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F1 2008, Round 2 - Malaysia - The second race of the year fails to deliver the excitement of the first

Published by Christine

This article was originally written for BellaOnline, but is republished here for posterity.

The second round of the 2008 championship arrived right on the back of the first, giving us barely time to appreciate the events of Australia before we were going racing again.

Malaysia is a hot race, with high ambient and track temperatures and a lot of humidity. It’s a tough circuit for the drivers, not only because of the variety of long straights and tight corners, but also because the heat is a big strain on the driver’s body. A lot of the training they do over the winter will be aimed at handling the exertion of two hours at 70% humidity.

This year, there was talk of storms, thunder and rain, but throughout qualifying and the race it never quite materialised. There were plenty of dark clouds to keep an eye on but no rain actually fell.

This made for a less exciting race than Australia, although still with plenty to analyse. Everyone got through the first corner safely, although it was a few turns later that the incidents began. Glock retired almost instantly, after contact with Heidfeld, and Bourdais spun off at Turn 6. Having got a couple of points on his debut last week, this must have been highly disappointing for the Frenchman.

Massa was leading the race from pole position but he pitted one lap earlier than team mate Kimi Räikkönen. Räikkönen put in an amazing lap and when he emerged from his pit stop, he was in front of the other Ferrari. In one lap he had managed to leap frog Massa for first position.

Whether it was due to the frustration or a mechanical failure is unclear as yet, but mid way through the race, Massa spun off track into the gravel and his race was over.

At the front, the McLarens were struggling to make any real headway. Kovalainen was sitting in third but not really pushing anyone for position. Hamilton had suffered a slow pit stop due to a right front tyre problem. He was stuck in traffic for most of the race, and never really managed to pull off overtaking manoeuvres.

One three-way battle that was worth watching was between Coulthard, Heidfeld and Alonso. Coulthard was running down the main straight, and Alonso was attempting to pass. He dived to the right, and Heidfeld who had been behind Alonso, dived to the left. The BMW got through easily to take the position, leaving Alonso and Coulthard battling between themselves. They were side by side for a number of corners, before Coulthard finally relented and Alonso took the position. Of course, he didn’t actually gain anything from all that effort, having let Heidfeld through as well.

All in all, it was a race worth watching but it was perhaps a bit of a letdown compared to the unmissable Australian Grand Prix.